The purpose of this site is to collect lab research by medical doctors about herbs that are proven to treat illnesses and counter the false attacks on herbs by the medical industry and false claims by alternative medicine. I let the science tell the facts.
 
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Serotonin is both a nero-transmitter and a hormone

Serotonin is related to depression. Low serotonin is often one of the primary commonalities with depression. Too much serotonin is harmful to the gut and causes IBS and cancer. Too little serotonin causes depression.

Here are some important but little known facts about serotonin.

Symptoms of low serotonin

  • Cravings for chocolate and sweets is a symptom of low serotonin
  • Over weight and food cravings are symptoms of low serotonin
  • Depression; low serotonin can cause depression. Note some antidepressant drugs and herbs may worsen depression and cause mania see Type IV BiPolar Depression
Things that lower serotonin.
  • Caffeine inhibits the body from producing serotonin
  • Ginseng inhibits the body from producing serotonin
  • Heavy metal toxicity inhibits the body from producing serotonin
  • Artificial sweeteners (aspartame)
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Dietary deficiencies of nutrient co-factors
  • Ecstasy, Diet Pills and certain medications
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Hormone Imbalances (thyroid, adrenal, estrogen)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Lack of Dietary Protein
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Problems converting tryptophan to Serotonin
  • Problems with Digestion
  • Stress and Anger (Dr. Paul Meier would enthusiastically agree).
    http://www.cure-your-depression.com/natural-source-of-serotonin.html
  • Avoid energy drinks and energy products especially those with caffeine.

1. "...Research on the association between various polymorphisms and depression supports the idea that serotonin plays a role, not only in the treatment of depression but also in susceptibility to depression and suicide...Clearly, pharmacologic approaches are not appropriate, and given the evidence for serotonin's role in the etiology and treatment of depression, nonpharmacologic methods of increasing serotonin are potential candidates to test for their ability to prevent depression...Several studies found an association between measures related to serotonin and mood in the normal range...Nonpharmacologic methods of raising brain serotonin may not only improve mood and social functioning of healthy people — a worthwhile objective even without additional considerations — but would also make it possible to test the idea that increases in brain serotonin may help protect against the onset of various mental and physical disorders...Reported levels of happiness were positively correlated and reported levels of sadness were negatively correlated with serotonin synthesis in the right anterior cingulate cortex. The idea that alterations in thought, either self-induced or due to psychotherapy, can alter brain metabolism is not new...Exposure to bright light is a second possible approach to increasing serotonin without drugs...A third strategy that may raise brain serotonin is exercise...The fourth factor that could play a role in raising brain serotonin is diet. According to some evidence, tryptophan, which increases brain serotonin in humans as in experimental animals,69 is an effective antidepressant in mild-to-moderate depression...Although purified tryptophan increases brain serotonin, foods containing tryptophan do not.71 This is because tryptophan is transported into the brain by a transport system that is active toward all the large neutral amino acids and tryptophan is the least abundant amino acid in protein...a-Lactalbumin, a minor constituent of milk, is one protein that contains relatively more tryptophan than most proteins. Acute ingestion of a-lactalbumin by humans can improve mood and cognition in some circumstances, presumably owing to increased serotonin....The primary purpose of this editorial is to point out that pharmacologic strategies are not the only ones worthy of study when devising strategies to increase brain serotonin function..."
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/

2-"Serotonin happens to be the most widely studied neurotransmitter since it helps regulate a vast range of psychological and biological functions. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) was first identified in 1948. The wide extent of psychological functions regulated by serotonin involves mood, anxiety, arousal, aggression, impulse control, and thinking abilities. Other brain chemicals, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, also influence mood and arousal. However, serotonin generally has different effects. For instance, excess amounts of serotonin cause relaxation, sedation, and a decrease in sexual drive. Serotonin deficiency is associated with low mood, lack of will power, and poor appetite control. Disruption of the normal functioning of the serotonin system leads to a number of psychiatric conditions, which include anxiety disorders, depression, improper social behavior, and sexual aberrations. Common medical conditions associated with disruption of the serotonin system include disturbance in the sleep-wake cycle, obesity or eating disorders, and chronic pain." ..."The figure below shows tryptophan converting into 5-HTP, which then readily converts into serotonin. Once serotonin is made, the pineal gland is able to convert it at night into melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Vitamin B6 is involved in the process of serotonin formation. " http://www.raysahelian.com/serotonin.html

3-"over eating, heavy metal, LSD, cocaine, and sugar cravings are all related? They are, via the serotonin 5-HT2 receptor. LSD...When one eats food, the 5-HT2 receptors are stimulated due to increased serotonin from increased sugar and Triptophan in the blood. http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/107555303322284794?cookieSet=1&journalCode=acm

4. Ginseng inhibits Serotonin "These results indicate that ginseng saponins, especially PT fraction, have substantial inhibitory effects on the recombinant 5HT(3A) receptor, suggesting that some of the specific types of ginsenoside might have an antagonistic action against 5HT(3A) receptor related to nausea and vomiting. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14499026

5. Wikipedia "Serotonin is a neurotransmitter,...Approximately 90% of the human body's total serotonin is located in the enterochromaffin cells in the gut (alimentary canal), where it is used to regulate intestinal movements.[6][7] The remainder is synthesized in serotonergic neurons of the CNS, where it has various functions. These include the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin also has some cognitive functions, including memory and learning...One type of tumor, called carcinoid, sometimes secretes large amounts of serotonin into the blood, which causes various forms of the carcinoid syndrome of flushing, diarrhea, and heart problems." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serotonin

6. "Also called theanine, L-theanine is a free amino acid found almost exclusively in tea plants, especially green tea. It is the predominant amino acid in green tea leaves. Specialists have found that L-theanine gives tea its characteristic umami or fifth taste. Tea tasters rate the umami taste most highly as it is considered to be the single most important determinant of tea quality. Theanine has also been discovered in a species of the edible mushroom Boletus badius. Theanine is also used in dietary supplements, particularly for mental alertness and weight loss. http://www.veria.com/herbs-supplements/l-theanine-increase-your-brain-waves-into-a-calm-relaxed-state

7. "A randomized targeted amino acid therapy with behaviourally at-risk adopted children...Increasing numbers of children are at-risk for behavioural and emotional disorders, a phenomenon contributing to increased use of pharmacological interventions for paediatric clients. Adverse side effects and other risks associated with pharmacological approaches have helped fuel interest in nutritional interventions for behaviourally at-risk children...The current randomized clinical trial evaluates the efficacy of a neurochemical intervention involving the glutamine and glutamate analogue L-theanine and 5-hydroxytryptophan, the precursor for serotonin, with children adopted from traumatic backgrounds...Results include significant increases in urinary levels of the biomarkers for serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid, coupled with significant decreases in parent reports of the children's behaviour problems.
CONCLUSIONS:While further research is needed, these initial findings are encouraging and are consistent with a growing number of studies indicating the efficacy of nutritional approaches to help behaviourally at-risk children. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21166834 Herb Discovery comment: Report 6 stated green tea contains some of the compounds used in this test which states two important things FIRST these scientists state pharmicology approaches are not as good as natural approaches to mood disorders and SECOND that L-theanine helps serotonin. See Green Tea

8. This is a link to an excellent article about how serotonin relates to sexual preference and stimulation. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/03/28/serotonin-and-sexual-preference-is-it-really-that-simple/


Other resources to increase seratonin (under research)

Vitamin B Complex like B6, B9 and B12 may affect mood, anxiety and depression. brains need vitamin B to manufacture calming neurotransmitters, serotonin and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid).

Essential Fatty Acids are vital for effective brain functioning.

Inositol necessary for several brain neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine and serotonin.

L-Theanine An amino acid commonly found in Green Tea, it is known to increase the alpha waves in the brain which promotes a feeling of relaxation but retains mental alertness.

Magnesium helps improve energy levels and activates the B vitamins needed for production of serotonin.

5-HTP an amino acid essential to the production of neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin from tryptophan. assist with conditions such as binge-eating, obesity and insomnia.

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Food sources that help with serotonin production - foods high in B-vitamins (brown rice, chicken, corn ,eggs, green leafs, legumes, meat, nuts, peas, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast), Calcium (almonds, brewer's yeast, green leafs and cruciferous vegetables, fish with bones, sesame seeds, tofu), Magnesium (green leafs, brown rice, sesame seeds, shrimp, salmon) and Tryptophan (turkey, soy foods, peanuts, almonds).

Essential fatty acids necessary for serotonin production are the omega 3's (fish oils found in mackerel, salmon, sardine, tuna; walnut oil, flax oil) and 6's (canola oil, chicken, eggs, flax, grape seed oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, turkey, wheat germ oil) as well as Gamma-Linolenic Acid (black current oil, bluegreen algae, borage oil, evening primrose oil). I've also read that most people have an excess of omega 6's and need to decrease the amount of 6's in their diet in order for the 3's to function well. I guess most of us are lacking in 3's.

Long-term stress depletes serotonin levels. Short term stress actually increases serotonin, but after time you get burn-out and it becomes increasingly difficult for the body to produce serotonin. So reduce stress--this can be as simple as adding exercise and meditation to the daily routine or as life changing as choosing to leave a really stressful job.
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_foods_raise_serotonin_levels

 

 
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